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Author: Hugo Frey

This book introduces readers to the cinema of Louis Malle. Malle needs little further preliminary discussion here. His is a body of work that most film critics around the world recognise as being one of the most productive in post-war international cinema, including as it does triumphs such as Ascenseur pour l'échafaud; Le Feu follet; Lacombe Lucien; Atlantic City USA, and Au revoir les enfants . Malle's work attracted intense public controversy, with a new Malle film being just as likely to find itself debated on the front page of Le Monde or Libération as reviewed in the film section of those newspapers. Malle's four major films of the 1970s represent a fusion of the youthful bravado and confidence of the 1950s combined with the new political questioning adopted in the late 1960s. Le Souffle au cœur, Lacombe Lucien, Black Moon, and Pretty Baby were made in relatively quick succession and each engaged in controversial and divisive themes. The book analyses Malle's political journey from the cultural right-wing to the libertarian left, to explain how Le Souffle au cœur marked a radical break with the 1950s by speaking of that era through a comic mode. It explores how Lacombe Lucien works as a film, to discuss its core rhetorical devices and what they mean today. The book also demonstrates that Malle is too complex to be explained by one theory or interpretation, however tempting its conclusions.

Hugo Frey

mother ( Le Souffle au cœur ); and the young girl becoming the subject of adult male fascination (Violet in Pretty Baby ). In short, Mallean film confirms Laura Mulvey’s now classic thesis on the representation of women in narrative cinema (1975). Furthermore, it also extended the traditional male perspective of the objectifying gaze from fiction into the field of documentary. As noted above, this was already a disturbing

in Louis Malle
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Hugo Frey

unusual but also incisive critique of post-war France. One does not have to unthinkingly agree with Malle’s outlook to appreciate its rhetorical force. Furthermore, with Le Souffle au cœur Malle drifted away from this discourse towards a different kind of film-making. With the completion of that film a phase in Malle’s life and work was closed. The libertarian memorial activist of the 1970s is as troubling

in Louis Malle
Hugo Frey

sustained challenge to conventional thinking and conservatism. Le Souffle au cœur offered a wry exploration of the 1950s bourgeois family and the sexual initiation of a teenage boy. Notoriously, the film ends with an incident of incest between the boy and his mother. This transgression goes unpunished and the family seems less dysfunctional than before the act. Three years later, in the historical drama Lacombe Lucien Malle

in Louis Malle
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Hugo Frey

defining motif is especially pronounced in the several Malle films that focus on children and teenagers and their turbulent journeys to adulthood. From Zazie dans le métro through Le Souffle au cœur , Lacombe Lucien , Black Moon and Pretty Baby up to Au revoir les enfants , Malle made this territory his own. Alongside psychological portraiture, there is a strong propensity for historical drama in

in Louis Malle
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Hugo Frey

legitimate to ask what meaning can one ascribe to their use? Arguably, in the light of my reading of the politics of Le Souffle au cœur , Malle’s strategy of ambiguity in the 1970s was open and libertarian in its motivation. His rhetorical stance implies a powerful and disturbing humanitarian gesture towards fascism that wishes to show that this movement was not exclusively composed of evil and insane monsters but included far

in Louis Malle
Guy Austin

in sex, psychology and adolescence than in history or politics – witness Au revoir les enfants (1987) and Le Souffle au cœur (1971) (see below) – and thus Foucault and Delmas misread Lacombe, Lucien as a film on history with sexuality added, instead of the reverse. Of course, war films are traditionally concerned with male psychology and sexuality, and Lacombe, Lucien conforms to this trend

in Contemporary French cinema
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Hugo Frey

Ronet ( Le Feu follet ); Malle and Georges Randal/Jean-Paul Belmondo ( Le Voleur ); Malle and Laurent/Benoît Ferreux ( Le Souffle au cœur ); and finally, to repeat, Malle and Julien Quentin/Gaspard Manesse ( Au revoir les enfants ). Malle’s repeated emphasis on Julien Quentin’s scopic power, his fascination with, and objectification of, Bonnet, of course quickly raises a further key question. Astutely

in Louis Malle
Brigitte Rollet

Malle’s film Le Souffle au cœur, which dealt with incest between a mother and her youngest son, or of Bertolucci’s controversial Last Tango in Paris in 1972 were seen as the signs that attitudes were changing. It was, however, the release of the adaptation of the erotic bestseller Emmanuelle in June 1974 which blurred the thin boundaries between eroticism and pornography. Distributed in a commercial cinema as an erotic movie, the film allowed porn to gain some ‘respectability’. It ran for a few months on the Champs Elysées

in Coline Serreau
Douglas Keesey

her cabin – though it is he who opens the door. Inside, the virginal Thomas is initially shy: he undresses with his back to Alice and shuffles toward her in his underwear while biting his thumb as if sucking it like a little boy. However, after they have made love and showered, he towels off in full view, unafraid to be seen by her when he is not in a ‘manly’ state of erection. In his ability to be both subject and object of the gaze, active and passive, man and boy, lover and son, Thomas is reminiscent of Laurent in Louis Malle’s Le Souffle au cœur (Murmur of the

in Catherine Breillat